Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cruising the Web

Victor Davis Hanson notes the peculiarity of Senator Warren's claim that she is a Native American because some unknown ancestor was, according to her family's lore, was one.
Progressives such as Elizabeth Warren resurrect the race-based thinking of the antebellum South: ‘One drop’ and you’re a bona fide minority.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has doubled down on her insistence that she is Native American.

In her past incarnations, she probably used that yarn in hopes of helping her win a law professorship at Harvard, which touted her as the law school’s first indigenous-American professor (and others apparently referenced her as Harvard Law’s “first woman of color”). She has refused to back down (and also refused to take a DNA test), even after Native American genealogists disputed her claim.

But what if indeed the pink and blond Warren were found to have 1/32nd or even 1/16th Native American “blood”? Why would that artifact magically make her “Indian,” much less a victim of something or someone, or at least outfitted with a minority cachet?

Does she have an idea of the absurdity of current progressive race obsessions and their creepy pedigrees? In wartime Western Europe, one of the justifications for making Jews wear yellow stars was that it was otherwise impossible to determine whether they were Jews at all, which of course made the entire Nazi edifice of supposed overt racial inferiority a nightmarish joke.

The Fascist and anti-Semitic French novelist Lucien Rebatet explained why the stars were needed for hard-to-identify Jewish citizens: “The yellow star rectifies this strange situation in which one human group that is radically opposed to the people of white blood, and which for eternity is unassimilable to this blood, cannot be identified at first glance.”

What is the moral of this sad reversion to the failed racist systems of the past? Warren is harkening back to the old South’s “one drop rule” of “invisible blackness.” Supposedly any proof of sub-Saharan ancestry, even one drop of “black blood,” made one black and therefore subject to second-class citizenship.
Hanson is so correct. It's always struck me as so ironic that those on the left advocating affirmative action programs have adopted the same standards that were used to discriminate against other minorities. I think of Homer Plessy who was 1/8 black and could pass for white, had to make it known that, when he sat in a whites-only section on a Louisiana train that he was actually breaking the law so that, after being charged, he could challenge the state's separate-car law in the case that became the infamous decision Plessy v. Ferguson. That decision established the legality of segregation as long as there was a pretense that the provisions were "separate, but equal." What was once a one-drop rule to segregate out blacks, is now an excuse from someone like Elizabeth Warren to gain professional benefits.

Hanson then transitions to note how liberals are adopting other odious policies from the old South.
hey also echo the antebellum talk of secession and boast about state nullification of federal law — again, based on the premise that a superior coastal culture should not be dragged down by the rest of the morally inferior United States.

California has announced that it is no longer entirely subject to federal law enforcement, much as South Carolina proclaimed before the Civil War. As an attorney and advocate, California has hired former attorney general Eric Holder, who is no longer the steward of federal law. Holder is eager to defend the state’s various nullification efforts. California has become an entire “sanctuary state,” where the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents supposedly have no jurisdiction over illegal aliens currently held in state and local jails.

Governor Jerry Brown, in 1850s southern evangelical style, has justified defiance of the U.S. government by evoking God to impugn President Trump’s religiosity: “I don’t think — President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility.” Indeed, Brown has toured abroad as a quasi commander in chief, urging foreign leaders to deal with California as though it were essentially an autonomous, sovereign country. Who knows, maybe Brown can cut trade deals that circumvent U.S. laws in the way that the cotton-exporting South once believed that foreign nations would favor its eventual autonomy.
We can but hope that Hanson's prediction that these attitudes will eventually fade away.
A century from now, our successors are likely to be as bewildered by the classifications of affirmative action and designated safe spaces as we are by segregation and “separate but equal” schools. A century after the Civil War, in reaction to the legacy of the Confederacy, progressives fought for integration; a century and a half after the Civil War, progressives are channeling the one-drop rule and advocating race-based dorms, safe spaces, and race-themed houses.

Once a region, a state, or a group of people becomes racially obsessed..., they turn absurd. Soon they stop listening to reason and fall into predictable mythologies of cultural superiority, regional chauvinism, and ultimately secession as proof of their moral supremacy.

What follows next never ends well.

Sounds like Republican voters are about to, yet again, throw away the opportunity to win a Senate seat that should be totally winnable.
National Republicans — on the heels of the Roy Moore and Rick Saccone debacles — worry they’re staring down their latest potential midterm election fiasco: coal baron and recent federal prisoner Don Blankenship.

With Blankenship skyrocketing in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary and blanketing the airwaves with ads assailing his fractured field of rivals as career politicians, senior party officials are wrestling with how, or even whether, to intervene. Many of them are convinced that Blankenship, who served a one-year sentence after the deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine, would be a surefire loser against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — and potentially become a national stain for the party....

While some senior Republicans are anxious to block Blankenship, others believe that such a move could backfire and turn him into a martyr— much as it did when the national GOP dropped millions of dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to take down Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in a Republican primary.

Like Moore, Blankenship is an entrenched, anti-establishment figure running in a conservative state.
It sounds like a lot of his efforts are aiming to clear his name from his conviction and prison sentence. Just what we need, another millionaire using politics to advance his own personal agenda.

Is this really how the left wants to use their efforts: ridiculing and slamming a harmless children's book simply because its author is the daughter of Mike Pence and Pence's wife did the illustrations? That's what John Oliver spent his show's influence to accomplish.
The most recent viral clip focused on the following horror of horrors: Mike Pence's daughter has come out with a book about his rabbit, Marlon Bundo. Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President teaches children about the vice presidency. Proceeds go to a hospital art therapy program called Tracy's Kids and an abolitionist and anti-human trafficking organization, A21.

Watching his segment, you can actually tell that Oliver at first struggled to explain why the book was worth attacking in the first place. Eventually he found a reason, noting that the final stop on the Pences' book tour was at "Focus on the F—king Family" (which you can tell is funny, because he said "f—k").

"Congratulations, Pence, you even managed to ruin Marlon Bundo," Oliver says to a graphic of Mike Pence, who again, had nothing to do with the book. "Now none of us can enjoy a book about your rabbit," Oliver continued, forgetting the literal slaves this book is helping.

Focus on the Family has an entire division devoted to benign and apolitical children's entertainment with a Christian bent (like the popular Adventures in Odyssey program). But the group is also active in socially conservative causes. Charlotte Pence is politically moderate, but this thoughtcrime by association on one stop of the tour is reason enough for Oliver to spend a significant amount of time and resources riffing on a children's book about a bunny. Proceeds of which are directed to the needy.

Oliver responded by announcing his own version of the book, in which Marlon Bundo is a gay bunny ("just like the real Marlon Bundo," he notes), stopped from marrying another boy bunny by an evil worm who looks like Mike Pence. Oliver assured viewers that buying the book would be a way of saying "f—k you" to Pence (which is funny, because he said "f—k").
He then urged his fans to go to Amazon and post negative reviews for a book they haven't read.

Why extend his vitriol against Pence to Pence's daughter and a perfectly harmless book the earnings of which are going to fight human trafficking? It's just an unending desire to attack Pence, the necessity of which, in Oliver's eyes outweighs any other consideration of decency.

Keith Ellison, a leading Democratic Congressman and Deputy DNC chair, has been claiming that he hasn't met with Louis Farrakhan since 2013. It turns out that that is a lie and the guy calling him on it is...Louis Farrakhan.
At the heart of Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison’s ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is a private hotel visit that Ellison is said to have paid Farrakhan, but which Ellison denies took place.

Farrakhan has said that Ellison and Democratic Indiana Rep. Andre Carson visited his Washington, D.C., hotel room in 2015 and they had a friendly meeting. “Both of them, when I was in Washington, visited my suite, and we sat down talking like you and I are talking,” Farrakhan said in a 2016 Facebook video.

Carson has confirmed that he was at the meeting. Ellison, however, is saying he was never there.

Ellison hasn’t been “in any meeting with [Farrakhan]” since he and Farrakhan both attended a dinner in 2013 that was hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, he said in a blog post Saturday....

Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), claimed in December 2016 that he had cut all ties with Farrakhan before he first ran for Congress in 2006. In reality, he attended two events with Farrakhan while in Congress, in addition to the 2015 meeting, new reporting has shown.

The first event took place sometime between 2010 and 2013. A video posted to YouTube shows Ellison standing and talking among a group of men at a Muslim community meeting, just feet away from Farrakhan. The second event was a dinner that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held for American Muslim leaders in 2013.

The Washington Post dinged Ellison in a fact-check earlier in March for claiming that he cut ties with Farrakhan before 2006, citing The Daily Caller’s reporting on the subject.,
So which repellent guy should we believe?

Germany, unbelievably, is acting to block Israel from finally obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council as was promised in a deal negotiated by UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the late 1990s. As Benny Avni explains in the New York Post, Israel wasn't able to obtain a seat because they're determined by regional groups, and Israel's region was never going to pick Israel. So Holbrooke's deal was for Israel to be the nominee for the Western Europeans and Other Group which includes democracies west of Berlin, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. And the deal had a long lead time - Israel wouldn't get a seat until the 2019-2020 term when both Israel and Belgium would get the seats. But Germany has decided that it wants a seat despite having had a seat in 2011-2012. So why is Germany abrogating the agreement? Its excuse doesn't hold water.
Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member — as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory.

But is building a porch in Maale Edumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong-un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless, clueless, cynical German power play against the Jewish state.
The UN is such a corrupt, useless institution. Every time I think they can't demonstrate their bigotry and worthlessness, they plumb new depths.

It is indeed striking how many times in recent years, the progressives seem to be on the wrong end of First Amendment issues. We've seen it in the shoutdowns on college campuses and the Obama administration position on compelling religious organizations to insure what they considered abortifacients. There is the liberal antipathy to political speech and their fury at the Citizens United decision. And now we have this case, NIFLA v. Becerra, that the Supreme Court heard yesterday. The case involves a California law targeted at pro-life pregnancy centers to post notices about where women can go to get free or low-cost abortions. These centers exist to provide prenatal care and counseling and often have a religious foundation. But the liberal state can't stand that such centers even exist and women aren't giving the abortion message. It also seems like a clear case of compelled speech, and judging from the questions asked in the hearing yesterday, there is a majority on the Supreme Court to strike down the law.
To any ordinary person, that’s an instance of the state requiring citizens to recite political speech whose content they abominate. But the Supreme Court has a long history of striking down laws that require objectionable speech: In Wooley v. Maynard (1977), for instance, the court held that New Hampshire could not require drivers to display the state motto, “Live free or die”; and in Riley v. National Federation of the Blind (1988) the court rejected a North Carolina law requiring fundraisers to relay specified factual information to potential donors.

Another part of the California law requires the pregnancy centers to declare to counselees that the center is not licensed by the state of California. That’s yet more required speech and almost certainly unconstitutional according to past high court decisions. It’s also just nasty: Is the point of state licensing laws to protect the public from a local crisis pregnancy center?

Several of the court’s liberal justices—Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor—seemed to take a skeptical view of the California position, which suggests that the law will almost certainly be declared unconstitutional. But that doesn’t mean the issue is decided. What about state laws that require abortion providers to specify the health risks of abortion or explain alternatives to it? The Supreme Court’s 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey famously upheld these “informed consent” laws, but aren’t they the same as California’s law requiring pregnancy centers to explain alternatives to adoption—namely abortion?

On Tuesday the justices seemed to indicate that the answer is “no,” but mainly because the California law is so manifestly written to target pro-life pregnancy centers. What if the law were more fairly written and applied? The pro-life side argues that the cases are completely different inasmuch as “informed consent” explanations take place before a serious medical procedure, and pregnancy centers don’t offer medical procedures. We agree, but the court won’t answer that question in NIFLA v. Becerra.

The most extraordinary thing about NIFLA v. Becerra is the existence of the FACT Act in the first place. California lawmakers don’t like pro-life pregnancy centers and sought a way to punish them. Why? Because frightened women sometimes wander into these welcoming places mistakenly believing them to be abortion clinics. Often they leave with a brighter outlook and a determination not to abort their unborn child. Liberal California lawmakers would rather that didn’t happen. Their remedy was to force pregnancy center workers to parrot state-sponsored talking points about “free or low-cost” abortions.

We’re sorely tempted to compel left-wing California lawmakers to recite their own follies. Thankfully the First Amendment doesn’t allow that.
For a more detailed analysis of the hearing, read Amy Howe's excellent summary at Scotusblog.